Make ERP payment system more efficient with grace period

 A truly Smart Nation would be able to make full use of modern day technology to efficiently run its policies, with minimal disruption and hassle to its residents.
A truly Smart Nation would be able to make full use of modern day technology to efficiently run its policies, with minimal disruption and hassle to its residents.PHOTO: ST FILE

I fully support Mr Pavithran Vidyadharan's suggestion to give motorists a grace period to settle Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry violations (Give 48-hour grace period to settle ERP violations, April 11).

There are many reasons why a motorist would pass an ERP gantry with insufficient value - and often these reasons are unintentional.

Last week, I drove past an ERP gantry while entering PIE in Jalan Toa Payoh at 7pm, with a value of $1.74 in my card.

In my haste, I had forgotten to check my card prior to leaving home. To my dismay, the ERP charge at that point was $2.

Thus, I had committed a traffic offence unwittingly.

That night, I checked if I could make an immediate restitution for my mistake, but I could not find any violation notice online.

And this was the case for the next five days, which, by then, would have resulted in me having to pay a fine of $10 on top of the $2 ERP charge. Simply put, I was being fined for my carelessness.

Currently, the only available option to link my in-vehicle unit to my bank account is through EZ-Pay, a system which pre-authorises a charge of $50 once every five days, but takes seven days to release this pre-authorised amount should it not be utilised.

This is not the most effective way to move towards becoming a Smart Nation.

A truly Smart Nation would be able to make full use of modern day technology to efficiently run its policies, with minimal disruption and hassle to its residents.

Today, drivers still have to use their ATM cards to top up their CashCards, effectively transferring funds from one card to another, just so that they can pay their dues for using the roads.

And they have to wait five days to pay their road fines.

There must be a more efficient way to utilise drivers' time and money better, and a 48-hour grace period ought to be extended to anyone who crosses the ERP gantries with insufficient funds in their CashCards.

David Tan Cheng Peng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2019, with the headline 'Make ERP payment system more efficient with grace period'. Print Edition | Subscribe